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Wolf Hall

(Thomas Cromwell Trilogy #1)

by
3.88  ·  Rating details ·  154,318 ratings  ·  14,872 reviews

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009.

(Note that this ebook contains family trees, which are best viewed on a tablet.)

'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.'

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has

...more
Kindle Edition, 653 pages
Published April 30th 2009 by Fourth Estate
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Vidhi Depends on what kind of reader you are. This book doesn't start easy. And if one is unfamiliar with the English history like I was, it can be quite co…moreDepends on what kind of reader you are. This book doesn't start easy. And if one is unfamiliar with the English history like I was, it can be quite confusing. There are too many Thomases and like. But having said that, once you are in the narrative, it is a great read. Like every good book, it will give you withdrawal symptoms after finishing it. But it would not be very much about the characters. It would be more about the environment. I felt as if I am suddenly cut off from the English court and missing all the gossips, all the wheelings and dealings that I had become part of. So yeah, I found it a rewarding read.(less)
Karoline I agree. I feel that I am extremely well-versed in the topic and I can't imagine anyone who doesn't already know the details of the events being able …moreI agree. I feel that I am extremely well-versed in the topic and I can't imagine anyone who doesn't already know the details of the events being able to read this. Plus, the writing style does not always make it obvious what person the story is being told in - or who is even speaking for pages. I applaud the work, but not a fun read.(less)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  154,318 ratings  ·  14,872 reviews


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Wendy
Jan 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Have you ever been with a group of people when someone tells a joke and the rest of the group thinks it's hilarious but you just don't get it? Wolf Hall was that way for me. So many people think it's brilliant while I couldn't maintain enough interest to finish it.

I love historical fiction, especially from this time period, so I expected to really like this one. I thought that telling the story of Henry VIII from the viewpoint of Cromwell was an interesting twist and I looked forward to learning
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Lewis Weinstein
I just started Wolf Hall, and I find the relentless use of "he" to be extremely irritating. In the first several chapters, there are dozens of instances where it is not clear who is speaking. Every once in a while, as if recognizing the problem she has created, Mantel uses the phrase "he, Cromwell." Why not just say Cromwell?

Unless there is some good reason which I can't imagine, this sort of obfuscation is just lazy writing which disrespects the reader. May I re-think that, based on a comment b
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Jeffrey Keeten
“Suppose within each book there is another book, and within every letter on every page another volume constantly unfolding; but these volumes take no space on the desk. Suppose knowledge could be reduced to a quintessence, held within a picture, a sign, held within a place which is no place. Suppose the human skull were to become capacious, spaces opening inside it, humming chambers like beehives.”

 photo ThomasCromwell_zpsa093cc12.jpg
Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein. Cromwell was a great supporter of Holbein and personal gave hi
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Teresa
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Lisa Hill
The thing to remember when starting this book is that 99% percent of the time the pronoun 'he' refers to Cromwell, even at times when the sentence structure makes it seems like 'he' would be someone else. It took me a short while to realize this, but once I did, I was fine. You are in Cromwell's head; you see everything from his perspective. As he reacts to others' reactions of him (many times, he is bemused to see how he is thought of) another layer of characterization is added.

This novel is be
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Paul Bryant
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
For the first 100 pages I was like a Monkees song, you know the one -

[Cue cute organ/guitar intro]

I thought great historical novels about the 16th century were only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else but not for me
Mmm, historical novelists were out to get me
That's the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all my dreams
Then I read Wolf Hall ! Now I'm a believer!
Not a trace of doubt in my mind!
Ooh I'm in love!
Ooh Hilary Mantel I couldn’t leave you if I tried





But then some strange things began
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Will Byrnes
The fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across a table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman’s sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rose water; her hand pulling close the bed curtain, the discrete sigh of flesh against flesh.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown…but really, crown-wearers see
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Riku Sayuj

I treat this novel as a qualified failure of an experiment (qualified since I am open to the possibility that the failure was mine) and I sincerely wish that Mantel does not win the Booker this year - I just cannot bring myself to spend anymore time with her lifeless narrator.

More than anything else Wolf Hall seemed to me to be a literary experiment - on how closely a woman can get into a man's mind, and as far as I am concerned, a qualified failure. I could never truly feel that the narration w
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Sean Barrs
Hilary Mantel sure knows how to write; her prose is eloquent and sophisticated. Stylistically speaking, she is very distinctive. Very few writers wield grammar the way she does; she uses every means of punctuation at her disposal to achieve real effectual writing. At some points her writing is simply beautiful, but there are also some real difficulties associated with it.

This is a hard novel to read. It chronicles the life of Thomas Cromwell, and the narrative is focalised through him. However,
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Annet
‘Henry stirs into life. ‘Do I retain you for what is easy? Jesus pity my simplicity. I have promoted you to a place in this kingdom that no one, no one of your breeding has ever held in the whole of the history of this realm.’ He drops his voice. ‘Do you think it is for your personal beauty? The charm of your presence? I keep you, Master Cromwell, because you are as cunning as a bag of serpents…..’’

'Someone asks him if he wants to confess.
‘Must I’?
‘Yes, sir, or you will be thought a sectary.’
Bu
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Emily  O
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Booker Prize Winner
Do you ever wonder about why people choose to read the books they do? Well, I can tell you, I read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel because it won the Book Prize For Fiction in 2009. You see, The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt was nominated for the Booker in 2009, but did not win. Curious to see what book could beat one of my favorite books of all time, I looked up Wolf Hall. And what do you know, it's another piece of historical fiction set in England and written by a woman. This could be interesting! ...more
karen
Mar 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: it-is-for-class
hilary mantel is such a tease. she calls her book wolf hall because she knows i have a crush on jane seymour, and then she just blah blah blahs about thomas cromwell for 500 pages, feeding me only tiny bites of jane. sigh. me and hil have always had a rocky history.i have read four of her books now, and have only really liked one; beyond black. but i keep trying. this one was for class, but i probably would have read it anyway, because this summer i read a nice fat bio of henry VIII and really e ...more
Bionic Jean
Everyone knows about the Tudors. Even people not particularly interested in history know the bare bones of the story, and people world-wide all seem to have heard about Henry VIII. I suspect it is one of the most popular periods to study in English history with its cast of colourful characters, intrigues, passions, extremes, extravagances, important political and religious changes and mind-blowingly violent events. Why then was Wolf Hall such a slog to get through?

For a start Hilary Mantel write
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Kaylene
May 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cannot-finish
Unfortunately I gave up on this book at page 84. I'm really disappointed that I was unable to get into this book as so many have raved about it. I just found the prose exceptionally dense and confusing. At times I was confused as to who was 'speaking' and couldn't follow it.

Oh well.....next!
Jennifer (aka EM)
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Simon
First off, I find the whole notion of the monarchy - any monarchy - absurd. And also, despite being a citizen of a Commonwealth nation with Her Royal Majesty's mug plastered all over my bills and coins, the Union Jack incorporated into my provincial flag, and a mom who dragged me out of bed at 4 a.m. to watch Lady Diana, Princess of Wales walk to her doom - err, groom - I am not, nor have I ever been, a monarchist.

I honestly don't remember what kind of history I was taught in school, but the Roy
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Richard
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-lit-uk
I admit to approaching Wolf Hall with a embarrassing lack of knowledge about Thomas Cromwell and the dysfunctional marriages of Henry Vlll, so, with some time on my hands I thought it a good project to finally read this long novel and gain a little historical insight.
The novel principally follows the life of Thomas Cromwell, from his rough and ready youth living with his sisters and abusive blacksmith father, to his eventually becoming, arguably, the most powerful man in England.
Thomas Cromwell
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Adina
You don’t know much about Henry VIII except that he was an English king, had a lot of wives and changed the official Church of England so he could bang another woman? You heard of Thomas Cromwell but you don’t know exactly why he is so important? You want to learn more about this period in England’s history and you think Wolf Hall is the place to start? Well, let me tell you, IT ISN’T. You already know everything there is to know about the life and deeds of the 2 men and are interested in a beau ...more
 ~Geektastic~
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in English history
I have always been fascinated by the history of England under the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII. I chalk this up partly to a morbid fascination, and partly to a genuine desire to understand the circumstances leading up to the Golden Age of Elizabeth I. (Her family’s Whig hatred of Elizabeth I is one of the few things I hold against Jane Austen.) This being said, I have hidden plot spoilers, but I will not be held accountable for the “spoilers” of history.

Well, to understand the circumstances
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1), Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall (2009) is a historical novel by English author Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall is a sympathetic fictionalised biography documenting the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII through to the death of Sir Thomas More. The novel won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2012, The Observer named it as one of "The 10 best historical novels".
Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
Bring Up the Bodies
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Paula
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary historical fiction fans
Recommended to Paula by: Booker
Booker Prize 2009
Women’s Prize Nominee for Fiction 2010
Costa Book Nominee 2009
National Book Critics Circle Award 2009

If you like literary historical fiction, Wolf Hall is a must. This Tutor era piece is exceptional. The dialogue is so outstanding. Seen from the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, this novel brings to light such a different perspective than your typical Tutor piece. Everything I have read previously has shown Cromwell as a total villain. This shows the man as a husband, loving father, and s
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A.J. Howard
One of the most interesting things about history is thinking about perspective. Very few people lived their lives with an intention of being known as a villain of history. Yet I think all of us fall into the trap of thinking of the past in moralistic terms sometimes. This is a function of generations of storytelling and cultural indoctrination. There are facts that we don't ever necessarily learn, or at least can remember learning, that we don't pause to consider.

My favorite thing about Wolf Hal
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Emily
Wolf Hall is the kind of book that gets better the more you think about it. Its protagonist is Thomas Cromwell: a villain in A Man for All Seasons but here a man with a family, a career, and a sharp way of thinking. He doesn't want to be a saint; he wants to apply his shrewdness and hard-won experience to make the best of a bad world. His feelings towards his family, as portrayed here, make him sympathetic, even likeable.

The book introduces all the figures familiar to readers of other Tudor stor
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Melindam
My first 5-star rating of the year.
This was nothing short of amazing!


”The world is not run from where he thinks. Not from his border fortresses, not even from Whitehall. The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from places he has never imagined; from Lisbon, from where the ships with sails of silk drift west and are burned up in the sun. Not from castle walls, but from countinghouses, not by the call of the bugle but by the click of abacus, not by the grate and click of the mechanism of
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Roman Clodia
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anne-boleyn
He thinks, I remember you, Thomas More, but you didn't remember me. You never even saw me coming.

My third reading (actually this time I listened to the wonderful audiobook) and finally this has turned into a 5-star book for me. Perhaps because this time I really got behind Cromwell's voice (surely that 'he' that so many complain about is representing Cromwell's inner voice, not a 3rd person narrator talking of Cromwell?) and was ready to pick up on all the subtle hints that this depicts one
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Tatiana
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, booker, historical, 2020
Hard to read and yet hard to put down. A successful marriage of elegant, sophisticated (although, at times, incredibly dense) writing and salacious historical details. I admit my brain skimmed over most of the religious stuff, but the old timey goss kept me glued to this story throughout. Love the show too.
Diane
I am a reader who thinks British history is fascinating, and I've long had a soft spot for the Tudors. That wacky King Henry VIII and his six wives! And that wacky Protestant Reformation that changed the world! What an amazing time!

Sure, this period has been much-written about, but I love the fresh approach that Hilary Mantel takes in her Wolf Hall novels, which is to tell the story of Anne Boleyn's rise and fall from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a low-born lawyer who eventually became a
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Matt
Frankly, most of what I know about the Tudors comes from watching Showtime’s The Tudors via my Amazon Prime account. So far, what I’ve learned from the Tudors by watching The Tudors is this: Boobs!!

That said, it is very well likely that the problem with Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is me. After all, it is a hugely popular, elegantly written, Man Booker Prize winning novel. Far be it from me to criticize it.

But I will, since I’m here.

Wolf Hall tells the story of King Henry VIII, his dalliance wit
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Steve
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
15 January, 2008

Dear Ms. Mantel:

Thank you for submitting your manuscript entitled Wolf Hall. After careful consideration, we have chosen not to publish your work in its current form. However, we believe that with certain modifications, our mutual interests may be well-served. The senior editor in our Business and Management Division, Lee Gultender, has what we hope is an intriguing idea for you to entertain. He proposes that you use the same main characters from your present book as exemplars in
...more
Glenn Sumi
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booker-winners
I don’t have much to add to the excellent reviews on here about the Booker Prize-winning first volume in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Indeed, I consulted several of those reviews while reading this lengthy tome, especially at the beginning, just to help orient myself and see if I was the only one having a tough time with the names, characters and historical allusions. I wasn’t! Mantel certainly doesn’t "write down"; we have to keep up with her, even if it requires consulting the pages
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Brian
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this novel was unlike many of my previous reading experiences. For the first 50 pages or so I was irritated at the vague pronoun usages (mentioned in nearly every review I have read on Amazon) and the dizzying cast of characters. And then something happened; I got use to Ms. Mantel's writing style, and my knowledge of history kicked in and I was swept up in the story. In that sense, "Wolf Hall" is a lot like reading Shakespeare. It takes a minute to get use to the style and language, and ...more
Simon
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second read. First read in 2009. Loved it all the more this time. Though sometimes got lost and with everything going on it took me waaaay longer than it should have. But that’s not the books fault. It was just a denser read when I need lighter stuff. So just mentioning that as my brain says 4.5/5 because of some parts and my heart says 5/5
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4,540 followers
Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Bring Up the Bodies, Book Two of the Wolf Hall Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of A Change of Climate, A Place of Greater Safety, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, An Exper ...more

Other books in the series

Thomas Cromwell Trilogy (3 books)
  • Bring Up the Bodies
  • The Mirror & the Light

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